Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Project Scrap Metal: 5.7 Liters of Organized Chaos

Well I know a lot of people didn't think I would actually finish it this year but here is the LS240 Vert in all its glory. Project scrap metal has come a long way since we last saw it here. Last time I explained what I did and didn't like about the build and well... instead of bailing on the project I did something about it. I really wanted to build a car to tandem with and not have to worry about too much. There was only one answer, a 240sx. I had huge plans at first and picked up an LQ4 block but at the time I really didn't have the cash to finish it that way. I sold that block and built a KA, which was a big mistake. So I sold the KA and picked up an LS1 to do it right, and here is that build!. Click read more to check it out!!

Well of course first things first, we took the KA engine out. I Didn't take too many pictures as we all know what a KA looks like and if you have owned a KA 240 I'm sure you know what its like to take one out.

I figured since I was taking out the motor I might as well do a little work on the car, the front was pretty well  ruined when I bought it So I figured id just cut it off and tube it myself. No big deal right??

Well that escalated quickly....The front end comes off surprisingly easy. Its basically glued together, and with a saw and a little force it fell apart. I'm glad I went through the trouble of this because with the full bars down from the struts and the radiator support being so strong now, It has to be stiffer than before. This plus the normal convertible supports makes this front end plenty stiff. 

I added a bash bar up front as well. Looking back on this design now, while it was easy to make, it was a bad idea making the lower bar that low. I made it to fit the new bumper I got but really its going to make it a pain in the ass to get it up on a tow rig so i'm going to cut it off and make a better one that surrounds the whole front (like everybody else duh) 

Next up was radiator work and trying to get it to fit in the spot the old one was in. I ended up finding a radiator from summit that fit really well (this one to be exact) . I got my bud Parker to weld up some little mounts for me and I added some tabs on my radiator support to hold it in along with some help from an old mount kit from a Honda.

It looks pretty damn awesome if I do say so my self. Not having a tube bender really made things very difficult but not impossible. In the future I'm not going to do anything like this without a bender, this works for now and while it does look good, it could look a lot better.

 Now on to some paint. I really ended up hating the purple I laid on it before, it just wasn't my style. I'm a loud noises and blinding 80's colors type of guy and the purple really didn't fit me like I thought it would. So I pulled it into the garage and got to it. I left the interior the old purple but went with Summit Hugger Orange on the outside.

At first I didn't know if I was going to like it, but the second I pulled the tape off and pulled it out of the garage I was in love with it. Its the sickest color I could have painted it, and it actually laid down real nice. I didn't primer again I just sanded down the old purple with 400 grit, got it nice and smooth and threw down the orange in one day. I have to say for being kinda lazy about the paint job it came out excellent, but I did do all the hard work with the welding/bondo when I did the purple.

I even removed the rear bumper to get the orange under that. (I don't see me running a bumper for the foreseeable future)

I'm very pleased with the outcome, I've seen a lot worse on 240s. (don't worry front end is coming in later post)

Here is a simple rear bash bar I welded up. My handy-MIG welder died right in the middle of this, it was laying down some really shitty welds the few weeks before this and then it finally died. My good racefriv homies Cory and Blake let me have theirs for the rest of the project and I wish I would have started with theirs to begin with. The older handy-MIG laid down horrible welds, so the front doesn't look as good as a I want. Oh well, when I inevitably wreck it I can redo it with some nicer welds.

Here is the bash bar for now, since I cut off the old tabs from the stock bumper it bolts right up!! In the future I will add some 45 degree pieces to the sides that extend to the frame instead of it just dead ending like that.

Then I had a little time off waiting for some engine parts, so I covered my dash in zebra print. Why not? Odi seems pleased with it.

Now to the motor!!! Its an LS1 pulled from a 01 WS6 Trans Am. I bought it out of a salvage car that had about 90k on it. It ran fine, but you could tell the previous owner didn't take care of it very well so a full tear-down was called for. I paid about 2250 just for the motor (with everything including harness, accessories, ecu...a full pull basically even the A/C)  in running condition which is a little high but a running engine that's throwing no check engine lights is hard to come by so I spent the money for peace of mind.

I tore it down to the block making sure everything looked good. The jackets around the cylinders where filled with mineral deposits and brown mud looking stuff probably from the past owner trying his own special mix of coolant, Dex and water. Dex is an OK coolant but if you mix ANYTHING else with it, it's totally ruined. I looked at the cylinders and the cross marks on the walls were still very prominent and the pistons looked great. I checked the rod bearings as well and everything looked brand new, so maybe the previous owner never pushed this thing hard (and from the state of the vehicle it looked like this was the case as well)

Oh yea a side note: The most random thing about this motor was that I found a grommet in the jacket area around cylinder 8. A full rubber grommet about an inch in diameter in the coolant liner. The hole in the head gasket is WAY to small to let this threw, so really the only option is that the assembler from Chevy back in 00 dropped it in there and said "fuck it I cant fit my hand in there" and left it. WTF guys?

OK back to the motor, I dropped a LS2 double roller chain on it as it bolts right on, and kept the stock cam. Most people wondered why I didn't swap the cam while I was here. Well, I've been drifting for about 2 years now with a 100 hp corolla and this comes with 325hp in stock form. Plenty for me to get used to. I can get an easy mail order tune job and I don't have to worry about valve springs etc...... all pimp stock. I also installed a high pressure oil pump. It runs about 5 psi more than a normal pump and it has some larger ports for higher flow. Very important when building a drift LS1, the oil system needs to be taken care of.

Since I mention a tune above I will mention this here. I went with a tune from tunedbyfrost.com and he did a amazing job. It was only $200 to tune the ecu to whatever I wanted, and he had maps ready to rock for the mods I was installing. LS1Tech.com thinks hes the next Jesus so I went with him and wasn't disappointed.

You can see the oil pan installed here. It was a toss up for me when it came up to Fueled Racing or Sikky. The old Sikky pan wasn't that good but the new design is pretty damn impressive. You can check it out here. It comes with a nice oil pick up that moves the pick up to the front and drops it in the box like structure with baffles and traps doors on the left and right. Its a pretty solid design that was very well made. Only problem I had with this was the front right bolt scraped the pan as I tightened it. It was aligned with the block properly but it seem the pan wall was to close to it for whatever reason. I didn't really effect anything besides making it a pain to tighten but if it was any worse i might have broken the weld from the flange to the pan wall, creating a leak, which would have been really bad once the motor was already installed. if you click on the pic it gets larger and you can see a tiny mark as it scraped up the pan. Usually I don't bitch about small stuff like this on aftermarket stuff, but Sikky stuff is pricey, it should be perfect.

I Put the whole motor back together, new head gaskets, new gaskets for the entire motor, ARP bolts, new water pump (since the old one was filled with ....shit...it seemed) and a 25% underdrive pulley from SLP. The stock pulley was a bastard to get off, the bolt was on there with red locktite with about 300 ft lbs it seemed. Once I finally got that bolt off (thanks for the air gun Audet!) one of the tabs broke off the stock pulley making it almost impossible to remove with a regular puller. I kept on and conquered the stubborn pulley.  The 01 F-bodys are about the best motors you can get for this swap, all the accessories fit with no problems, the engine issues from the 98 are no longer there, and with the LS6 intake etc.. that it comes with stock there is a little more power from the factory.

I didn't really get any pics of the tranny so I'll talk about it here. It's a stock 01 T56 from a different WS6. I got the tranny, Spec Stage 2 Clutch, flywheel and Hurst shifter stuffs for $1100.  Not too bad, maybe a little steep but with the clutch thrown in it was a deal. It's damn hard to find a good T56, it's definitely the hardest part to find for the swap as a lot of F-bodys were autos. Corvette trannys wont work as they have trans-axles installed at the rear. Also since we're talking about the tranny I used the Sikky master cylinder kit for everything and it fit up really nicely, and the clutch pretty much magically bleed itself, does anybody know if these are self bleeding slaves cylinders? I pumped it a few times with the slave out cracked open then closed it and it was perfect... usually clutch bleeding sucks but this was too easy. 

Putting the motor in!!!!! At first it was a pain in the ass because we didn't hammer out the tranny tunnel enough. ATTENTION: To all my VERT homies out there that are doing this swap prepare for some reallllllllyyyyy hard core hammering on the tunnel. The place that Sikky has you hammer in the tunnel so the T56 can fit in there is exactly the same spot the vert support brace is. Me and Audet had to hammer the shit out of the tunnel as well as cutting slices into the support to get it to move enough. I'm assuming for a regular 240sx this isn't a big deal but it took us about a day of hammering and a couple of tries to get it in there. Otherwise the swap went well. All the Sikky mounts are really nice and everything bolted right up. Very nicely done swap kit here. Thanks to my buds Glenn, Audet, and MC Ben for the help on getting this in!!!

Let's talk about the headers, I heard that you should install the headers as you are dropping it in, and at first I didn't think much of it, but if you can do it, put the headers on then drop the motor in. I didn't do this and it kinda turned into a pain, the passenger side just fell in no prob but I couldn't for the life of me drop the driver side in (yes, of course with the steering shaft taken apart) BUT I did manage to jack up the front of the car and install the headers from the bottom so there's that. Drop the sub frame a tad, rock the engine to the side a little and jack the front way up and you can pull them in from the bottom, then install your shaft etc....

So here are a couple of lousy close ups of how I have it set up. 

I'll take this space to tell you my horror story. While hooking the wiring up for the starter I broke the bolt on the solenoid on the starter. I freaked out for a bit but luckily the starter came out no problem. Once I pulled the passenger headers I had a new one in within 30 mins. Good times....

With the Oil filter, the power steering pump, the headers, brake lines, oil lines etc...the right side gets a little busy but it works and all fits very nicely. All Sikky stuff here, very nicely done on that. I got a 76 inch belt to work on my accessory drive and everything fit together nicely.

The radiator setup that I made before still fit in just right and with a fan on the back of it it's maybe 1/2 an inch from the water pump pulley, everything is very solid though and it's good to go. I made the mistake of setting up the radiator first then the engine but it worked out great and went pretty smooth. Also a handy tip if you have a universal radiator and need a really crazy hose to make it work I recommend the goodyear flex hoses. They have a spring in them making it impossible to crimp them. They do not fold even with 180 bends and they are just fantastic, they even come with different size ends for all the random applications you can think of. 

I wired the engine up, the picture above is me working on it. My engine came with the harness, ECU etc... so I just reworked the stock harness instead of spending a ton of cash on a chase bays kit or something. This was the scariest part of the build to me but turned out to be the easiest. I was really worried about it but once I started to tackle it it really wasn't hard at all and i'm really glad I didn't spend the money as it only took me a couple of days to make this. Here are my wiring tips for anyone doing the swap.

1.get a stock engine harness
3.cut all the electrical tape and covers off
4. Pull aside shit you dont need, dash connectors, emissions stuff, oil pressure sender, secondary 02's, oil level, etc...
5. de-pin the harness from the ecu pins, its super easy to de-pin these connectors. Do not cut any wires unless they're attached to the pink, orange, or back splices. Do not cut the whole splice out just cut the wire you don't need going into the splice.
6. Make a wire for fans (if your using the ecu for that) and one for the tach.
7. Now you should have a splice with a bunch of pink wires, a splice for a bunch of orange wires, and a ground splice.
      A. Black ground wires of course ground to engine AND chassis somewhere
      B. Pink wires are ignition, it needs a 12v source when the key is on. (on off switch)
      C. Orange wires are Batt + power. They need 12v constant.
      D. Green for tach (or really whatever color you like as long as its in the right pin)
      E. Whatever wires you want for the fan as long as its in the right pin
8. Lay wires over the engine and start zip-tying and taping the harness to fit your swap
9. Give the ECM a good home and hook it up.
10. Sort out your fuel pump wiring.
11. Plug in everything on engine
12. Get 12v power to the starter with a push button or key.
13. Run battery cable to switch/starter/alternator
14. Pray to favorite deity, press start, offer ritual sacrifces.

Of course that is just a short overview of the basics.

This is the exhaust I made in a day just to get the car going. I made it out of a x kit from summit and some other discount stuff I had laying around, one of the x's just turned into a cutout if I want it. This is where I wanted to talk about the one other weirdness I found with the Sikky kit. The passenger header comes out in the weirdest location. It could come straight back to make life easy but it doesn't. It shoots directly into the tranny mount making it a pain in the ass to fit an exhaust on. Both header outlets aim inwards a little too. That's why the passenger side on the exhaust had to have that weird little bend on it. Again I usually don't bitch about after market stuff such as this, but like a said before Sikky is a premium parts company it should be perfect. Either way I'm going to drop this car off and get a real muffler setup on this at some point, and they can deal with it.

So here is the trunk mounted fuel setup! Its a little ugly in this pic since then I've cleaned it up quite a bit. I directly copied the design off somebody on www.silviav8forums.com. I was racking my brain on how to do this for a few weeks and somebody on there posted a sick build with pretty much this exact setup. I already had the corvette fuel regulator and was looking for a way to run it cleanly in the engine bay, but then I saw this setup and decided to move everything to the trunk. How it works: The stock in-tank pump lifts fuel into the shiny CX racing surge tank, the F250 high pressure fuel pump (black) pulls from the bottom of it, sends it to the corvette regulator. The regulator sends it to the engine (blue fitting) and returns to the surge tank and the surge tank vents/returns to the stock return port. It works great and its super clean. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the trunk and ran a 10 foot 3/8in diameter (i think) stainless line to the fuel rail. This way only one hose is under the car and almost all trouble shooting is done in one location. This is a very cheap simple way to have a baller fuel setup that won't starve the engine with fuel sloshing around.

So the car is (sorta) whole now, It actually started up the first time I pressed the start button. How in the hell I have no idea, but somehow I (almost) got it all right. Fuel pressure was good, coolant temp was good.  Its first event was less than 10 hours later so it had to be right! The next morning at six in the morning I ghetto rigged some lights on it and drove (like this) to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the KMS event)

and as you can see I had a blast, the car makes a few strange noises here and there, and it has a slight surge issue that I think is a vacuum line, but it runs like a champ. For the first 30 mins it was blowing out a little smoke but the more I drove it the more the smoke went away. It never over heated (though it was about 30 degrees that day) and the oil pressure was happy all day. The only thing that went wrong was some  suspension bolts (LCA) that had been left loose and the exhaust got knocked off after running over a clipping point.

The car has a shit ton of power I'll have to get used to. With a tune and the mods its probably close to about 400hp now. Whatever it is its a lot more than I'm used to. The first half of the day was figuring out how to deal with the power and a welded diff, but the second half was running tandem with everybody I could. Even ran with some FD drivers that scared the shit out of me (thanks Sammy !)

I ran with Seth and his LS240 a few times and had a blast and managed to not wreck into anything. Tandem runs was the whole point of the build. I was always too scared to ruin the AE86 as I really really like that car. The 240 was perfect for this, it really is the best chassis ever built for the price, the car handled great all weekend, and I didn't get it aligned yet, I should really get on that.

The event had two (really three) setups that I could run at anytime, it was the perfect event for me to get the bugs out, I'm so glad I busted my ass for five straight weeks to get this done. Also big thanks to my fiancee for not killing me while I was ignoring her just after I popped the question.  Love you babe!

Big thanks to Import Atlanta and Justin @ Team Rowdy for the pics!!!!!!!!!!!

Next time I'll have an accusump setup, some interior shots, and badass ASP ebrake setup, and oh yeah possibly a front end!.

Thanks for reading everyone, If anybody has any questions just write below, and I'll do my best to answer them .

You can check out all the past updates here!
Check out part 4 here


  1. Hey thanks for the wiring tips, it will really helpful to me. Because I am going to do it myself for mini cooper.

  2. Most of the time I don’t make comments on websites, but I'd like to say that this article really forced me to do so. Really nice post!

    best adult tricycle